Monthly Archives: May 2013

“It’s my life and you can’t make me!” Circa 1962

This is a common theme with teens and I was fully prepared when I heard it from my kids.  After all, I said it about 10,000 times to my mother.  Last night I heard it at least once and likely a few times this week.  But, it’s normal to hear that from kids and there is a balancing act between letting them make choices and choosing for them.  But this blog is about me … about my wanting to say, out loud to anyone who will listen, “It’s my life and you can’t make me!”

I know that each day I have the ability to make the choice to take control over my life.  To be proactive on what I need and not take care of everyone else first. But the intellect does not always match the heart.

I also know that to take control of my life or exercise personal leadership I need to take responsibility for myself.  It means I have to live my values, vision and then,  When I do, I’m more productive, able to solve problems more easily and have less stress in my life.

I’ve let this part of my life slide at times.  Rather than face my fears and move on and take control, I don’t.  I let other people or things make decisions for me.  That’s a form of taking control but not a healthy one.  I’m sure you can relate.

We must all remember, that as silly as it sounds, we are the principal architect and creator of our lives.  Where we’re at and who we’re with are based on choices and decisions we’ve made thus far.

I found an interesting article on personal leadership and it related to seeing yourself as the CEO of your life.  It essentially asked, are you making healthy strategic planning decisions?  Are you living your life in the most inspired but efficient way?  Are you making decisions for yourself rather than allowing the decisions to happen to you?

(Deep Breath).  I’m not sure about this in my own life at times.  I do know, that when my kids say, “It’s my life ….” they are trying to tell me that they want some control.  That they don’t want things to “happen” to them.  And truthfully, neither do I.   Food for thought.

I hope you have a nice start to your weekend!

“What do you always seem so freaking happy?”

I got the greatest compliment yesterday.  My friend said, “You always seem so freaking happy and when you’re not, you’re quick to find the silver lining or apologize for not being at your best.”  Wow, I thought to myself, she doesn’t know me (smile)!  And, I didn’t even have to buy her lunch.  She asked me what do I do to keep myself feeling happy.  I shrugged my shoulders, said it was good genes and moved on.  But last night, I decided to try to make a list of things I do to keep that happy feeling (it’s not perfect and BTW – I’m not always happy!):

1.  Attitude of Gratitude:  Sounds cliché, I know, but I really try to be grateful for what I have, even if I feel I want more.

2.  Look for the Best:  I try to look for the best in everyone and every situation.

3.  Control the Tapes:  The law of thoughts is that they can control you, unless you decide to control them.  We really do have a choice about whether to play our old negative tapes or not.  Instead, try (operative word) to create new, happy tapes.

4.  Great Friends:  I’ve decided that the strong and beautiful women (and men) in my life make me happy and a better person.  

5.  Exercise, Exercise, Exercise:  Enough said.

6.  This Blog:  For many years people have suggested that I write a book.  No idea what I’d write about, but this blog has been like journaling and it’s given me the opportunity to pause, reflect and get perspective. So, if you don’t want to bare your soul in a blog, then start a journal.

7.  Love:  There is nothing better than having it in your life and giving it away (and not just to your immediate family)!

8.  Forgive and Apologize:  I try (although not always successfully) to put my energy into forgiving or apologizing, rather than judgment and resentment.  I hope those close to me feel the same way about this.

9.  Be Realistic:  Too much optimism can cause failure.  But realistic optimism has always served me well and resulted in success, not failure.

10.  Looking Inside for Approval: This is tough but I really try to look to myself to find peace and happiness.  Again, it’s about gratitude.

11.  Speak Well of Others:  Gossip is negative and makes us feel unhappy in the long run.

12.  Smile:  This is so true for me! Try it.  Smile right now as you’re reading this!  Makes you feel good, doesn’t it?  Imagine if you were doing it all day.  It’s amazing how many smiles I get back from people when I smile at them.  It’s energizing!

I have no idea if any of this resonates for you.  If not, make your own list and it might just create more focus on what makes you happy!

I hope you have a fabulous day!

How kids (and a few others) define love.

There was a study done where children ages 4-8 were asked, “What does love mean?”  The answers they gave were amazing.  So, I decided to ask my kids and friends what their definitions are of love.  I got some great ones but I won’t tell you what I got from whom …

“Love is that first feeling you feel before all the bad stuff gets in way.”

“Love is that spontaneous feeling you get in your body.”

“Love is divine energy.”

“When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore.  So, my grandfather did it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too.  That’s love.”

“Don’t you think love is when the girl puts on perfume and the boy puts on cologne and they go out and smell each other?”

“Love is when my dog licks my face.”

“Love is when you are with someone and you order fries and they don’t ask you to share them.”

“Love makes you smile when you’re tired.”

“Love is when someone hurts your feelings but you don’t get mad because you know if you yell, it will hurt their feelings.”

“Love is when mom makes oatmeal and she takes a bite before giving it to me to make sure it’s sweet enough.”

“When you’re in love, you always want to be together and when you’re not, you’re thinking about being together.”

“Love is unconditional affection with no limits or conditions.”

“When you love someone you want nothing more than for them to be truly happy no matter what it takes because that’s how much you care about them and because their needs come before your own.”

“It’s when they’re the last thing you think about before you go to sleep and when they’re the first thing you think of when you wake up.”

“You can find true love when you learn to love someone you hate.”

“Love is when you tell someone something you think is bad about you and they love you even more.”

“Love is when you tell a guy that you like his shirt, then he wears it ever day.”

“Love is when you are old but you are still in love with your spouse, even though you know each other so well.”

“Love is when you like someone a lot.  By a lot, I mean you want to talk to them at least once a day.”

“Love is when you feel really passionate about someone, different from how you feel about your friends.”

Enjoy the day! 

“Mom, you’re beast for a 50 year old.”

Yesterday I forced (yes, forced) my children to join my triathlon group for its annual Memorial Day track work out.  It’s a day when the members bring children, family members, etc. and we do a fun track work out.  Yesterday was 10 x 400’s with a partner.

You would have thought I had asked them to give up their electronic devices for a year (it was less than an hour!) or sports for their lives.  I got so much flack (non swear word) for this activity.  Honestly, even getting out of the car at the track the boys were saying, “Why are you making us do this?”  “What do I get in return?” (my answer to the latter was not pleasant).   My daughter was a bit more gracious about it, even when she got paired with the coach who claims she’s not fast, but really is VERY fast.

During the work out, my boys took it upon themselves to beat their old mom.  They were not on my team (thankfully) and whenever they were coming along on the track when I was running, they would pass me with a smile, maybe a comment like “slow poke” and then bolt … like the road runner.   I gotta say, they are very fast – those long legs and young lungs help!

Here’s the thing: I might feel bad if I had been a fast runner in my youth and I’m now slowing down for the next generation – but that’s not the case.  Remember my friends, I was the queen of geeks at their age.  When I ran the hurdles, I knocked down every single one and still was so last it wasn’t even funny!  Any sport I tried, I failed.

Now, at 50, I’m likely in the best shape of my life (I’m not saying too much here) and although I’m slower than those three fast road runners in my family, none of them can keep up with me in the distance category (not yet anyway!).  So, when my son said in the car after the run (post-appeasement with Jamba Juices), that I was “beast” for a 50 year old,  I took it as a great complement!  Hey, I’ll take it when I can get it!

Hope you all have a great day today!

The unofficial start to summer?

Yes, today is the unofficial first day of summer (really?), and a day off for most Americans. Fire up the barbecue. Do some shopping.  Pools and beaches typically open today, although it was still winter last week.

But we have the day off for a reason. Because we want to celebrate and remember the millions of Americans who have given up their lives for their country. Memorial Day began as Decoration Day in the aftermath of America’s Civil War. Did you know that on this day, the American flag is run all the way up to the peak in the morning, then immediately lowered to half-staff until noon?  The flag is returned to full-staff thereafter.

While we often fill this day up with other things, it’s important that we remind our children why we have this day off.  We must tell them there is no greater sacrifice than a life — a life to protect other lives. My kids, and maybe yours too, think of going into the service as a way to have college paid for them.  The aren’t taught that it is service to the country.  We also need to tell them how critical it is to take care of these men and women when they return home.

I also use this day to remember my grandparents and mom — and others who have passed.  I plant flowers, bring up  a few memories and remind myself why I miss them.  Today, the kids and I are going to spend time together. We’re going to join my tri-group for a family track work out, go out for lunch and plant some flowers at the cemetery and join in on a BBQ later this evening.  My poor daughter has her first final tomorrow morning so she’ll be doing a bit more studying.

Whatever you do, take a moment to remember those who died for their country.   And for those of you who’ve lost someone in service – Thank You.  We know your sacrifice is the ultimate one.

Have a wonderful day.

Dear Sugar – Post #265

Here I am, 100 posts left in this year of 50.  I’ve learned so much about myself, being vulnerable and staying present.

I read a column called Dear Sugar, by Cheryl Strayed, who asked her readers “What are you thankful for?”  Post 265 seems like a good place to ask that question:

1.  I am thankful for the ability to be uncomfortable.  It’s in the scary world of discomfort and vulnerability, that I can see the beauty of the world and life around me.

2. The ability to open my heart to accept the raw and the brutal pain of life, but at the same time be selfless and kind.

3. My scars.

4. My mom’s death.  She died in six weeks and, as a result, she only had a few weeks to feel the fear of death.

5. My dad.  I thought he might be a great guy, but it wasn’t until my mom died, that I really began to know him and understand how great he is.  Silver Linings.

6. Second chances, whether deserved or undeserved.  I’m also thankful for the times that I allow myself a second chance – which is not as often as I should.

7. True love.

8. For music and its ability to allow me to be lost in the feeling of it all.

9. For how often I screw up.  When I was younger (49), I was afraid of screwing up.  I’ve learned by screwing up, that I’m neither a good person nor a bad person.  Instead, I am a person whose trying to be the person I want to be. No more and no less.  I would not have realized that fact, were it not for my mistakes.

10. For true friendship.  I’m thankful that I’ve learned that the love of a true friend is as pure as the love of a partner.  And why not?  Isn’t a partner supposed to be your friend first?

10. Balance and more often than not, being out of balance.

11.  For all those people who see me as whole even with all my holes.

12. For those timely kicks in the butt, to move on, make a change and feel the pain and excitement of it.

13. For the fragility of health because it makes us slow down and pay attention.

14. For laughter.  The kind that makes you start crying because it’s so powerful and true.

15. For my kids and the insanity and joy of living with them and learning from them.

What are you thankful for?

Have a great day!

A first time for everything: Jessica the Flasher.

I recall flashing and streaking being big in my day.  There was even a song about it.  It was cool to streak!  I’ve gotten a bit more modest as I’ve gotten older.

Yesterday I went to the club for an early swim. As you know, it has been a tough week in every area of my life – sometimes it just rains and rains.  So, I was looking forward to a quick mile of quiet time.

Getting ready to swim is a bit more complicated than running (where I just lace up my shoes and go).  I need my goggles (prescription), ear plugs, my Packers swim cap, my suit, flip-flops, towels, water bottle and swim gear.

Yesterday was no exception.  I put on my suit, got all my gear and went out to the pool deck.  I put my stuff down and walked over to the drinking fountain.  I bent over, got a drink and walked back to my lane … the farthest one from the fountain.  I was ready to swim.

Just, as I’m about to get in the pool a woman a few lanes down motions me over.  I think maybe I know her.  I don’t have my glasses on nor do I have my prescription goggles, so I’m fairly blind.  Could it be one of my workout friends?

As I get closer she says, “I think you may have a problem with your swimsuit.  I think you have a bit of a hole in the back.”  I gasp.  I then realize that my butt had been feeling cold.  I reach back.  Sure enough, the suit is slit from the top to the bottom.  She looks up at me and sees the blood rush from my face.  She graciously says, “Who cares?  You gotta get your swim done!  It will be fine.”

I take a deep breath.  Could I have any more crazy s*^% this week?  Seriously.

I decide that I don’t care.  I gave birth to twins and in the process had to show more than I cared to, to more people than I cared to.  I had a bad bike accident with stitches in places I don’t want to mention.  So, why not swim with a big gaping slit in my suit?

I just get in and get it done (however, I do notice the guy a few lanes down doing more watching than swimming!).  Whatever.

I’m thankful this week is over.  It was a challenge.  But, I learned a lot about my life and the direction I’m heading and, more importantly, I realized that I really don’t care who sees my butt on any given day.

Welcome to the first holiday weekend of the “summer!”  Make it a great one!